Sometimes we fall into the humdrum habit of making the same types of meals over and over again. Why not 'turn over a new leaf' this season by taking a more eclectic approach to cuisine? Give some of these recipes a try to add easy, creative twists to your meals. Many of them are allergy-friendly as well!
Miso Soup Oatmeal
When you're in the mood for a more savory breakfast or snack, this simple recipe hits the spot! Add about a half cup of quick oats to a bowl, along with a packet of Miso-Cup soup mix (I like the organic version) and top it off with hot water until it reaches about an inch above the oats. Microwave it for 2 minutes, stir, and add a little cold water to cool it off faster. Miso has so many health benefits and uses. You could also make a more gourmet version by cooking the oatmeal first, then add fresh miso, tofu, scallions, mushrooms, and any spices you prefer. Or, consider miso tahini oat balls for an on-the-go salty, sweet treat .
Adding mango and cardamom to oatmeal can really wake up your taste buds. I like to use Trader Joe's frozen mango chunks, plus add a dash of nutmeg and spoonful of nut butter. Delish!
This dish is popular in India, and it rounds out a yummy brunch when you want a savory, high-protein meal. It's gluten-free too and very versatile. The recipe name alone may sound intimidating if you're not familiar with it, but the ingredient list and steps are simple. If you're not a fan of tofu, omit it and it will still be a great, high-protein meal or snack.
Hawaiian BBQ "Fried" Quinoa
I came up with this mishmash of a dish one night, and it makes a great, healthy alternative to fried rice. Start by making a few cups of cooked quinoa (using a rice cooker adds major convenience!) Drain and rinse a can of lentils. While the quinoa is cooking, saute a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies (I like the Harvest Hodge Podge mix from Trader Joe's) then, add the cooked quinoa and lentils to the pan, plus some pineapple chunks, and top it all off with a little cayenne pepper, Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce (or other teriyaki sauce) and BBQ sauce. Cook on medium-high for a few minutes to help enhance the flavors. This is pretty filling so can stand alone for a meal, or as a hearty side dish.
Snappy Spiced Masoor Dal Lentils
Take a pack of masoor dal lentils (the pink kind, you should be able to find the Goya brand for instance at most grocery stores, or at an Indian grocery store if you have one near you). Cook the masoor dal lentils in a rice cooker with veggie broth instead of water (I like to use water with Vogue Cuisine Vegebase). Once the lentils are cooked, stir it around - it will have somewhat of a mashed potato consistency. Just add more water if needed. Then add the spices of your choice - I usually add garlic powder, sea salt, cumin, cayenne, and Chana Masala mix or Garam Masala.
Asian Veggie Burger "Norito"
Start by making veggie burgers from your favorite recipe, but incorporate sesame oil (or sub sesame seeds if not using oil), Asian stir-fry veggies, ginger, rice vinegar, and tamari or soy sauce, and wasabi for extra kick. Or, take a shortcut and buy frozen veggie burgers, such as MorningStar Farms Asian Veggie Patties. Next, take a rice wrapper, run it briefly under warm water, and lay it on a plate (this step is optional, you can just use a nori wrapper or tortilla if you'd like). Then, lay a nori wrapper on top of the rice wrapper and add the veggie burger plus any extra veggies you prefer. Finally, roll it into a burrito, cut in half, and serve! This video helps demonstrate the steps.
Masala Baked Falafel Pita Sandwich
This is a similar idea to the Asian Veggie burger above. Start by making your favorite veggie burger or falafel recipe (similar to this one) and add some Indian flavors, such as Garam Masala and coriander (i.e. cilantro). You can bake them at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes on each side for a healthier version. Or, take another shortcut and use a store-bought version, such as Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala burger. Serve in a pita pocket with hummus or chutney and vegetables.
This recipe requires minimal cooking, while featuring flavorful ingredients. To make this quicker and help simplify it, consider taking a few shortcuts - use a rice cooker for the rice and cook it in bulk ahead of time. You can also swap garlic powder for minced garlic, and omit the sundried tomatoes if you want to cut down on ingredients.
This German spin on an Italian classic looks great for either breakfast or dessert!
Spicy Thai Peanut Butter Cookies
You can change up almost any recipe, even baked goods, to infuse the flavors of your choice. Writing this blog actually inspired me to experiment with cookies, using flavors commonly found in Thai food. I started with this peanut butter cookie recipe, then made some tweaks. A few notes: I used natural chunky peanut butter (contains just peanuts and sea salt), 1 cup of "oat flour" (whirred oats in the food processor), and 1/4 unsweetened shredded coconut. Instead of using 1/4 cups of water, I added the juice of 1 lime and 1 teaspoon of Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce to a 1/4 measuring cup, then topped it off with water. After mixing everything together, the dough seemed a little too wet, so I added 1/2 cup of flour. If you want to keep this gluten-free, you could add more oats or a gluten-free flour. I sprinkled them with a little more coconut and a dusting of chili powder, then baked them for 8 minutes. They turned out pretty good! Next time, I would cut back on the sugar and salt, replace more of the water with more lime juice, and add a bit of ginger.
(Editor's Note: Mel introduced these to the office a couple weeks ago and they were received with stellar reviews. Don't miss-out on this recipe!)
What's your favorite fusion food recipe?